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Skincare

I’m 50 years old. Normally I think that’s pretty cool, but lately my skin has been getting me down.  I don’t mind being 50, but don’t want to look like I’m 50. You know, 35, 38, that’d be cool. 45, even.

I’m one of those lucky people who don’t get a lot of zits. But before you start getting all jealous, think of this: when I do get a zit, it’s a great honking crater that forms usually on the tip of my nose. Rudolph much? It’ll be bright red for 3-4 days before it finally pops out, then when I squeeze it (I know you’re not supposed to, but really? How am I supposed to walk around with a ginormous whitehead throbbing on the tip of my nose) it bleeds, scabs over, and looks gross for 3-4 days before it finally subsides.  I’m not sure whether that’s better or worse than having more frequent but less attention-seeking zits. Anyway, my last one started about 2 weeks ago and took almost a full week to subside. I had 2 or 3 days of comparatively clear skin before another decided to erupt in the exact same spot.  For some reason, my trusty Mario Badescu doesn’t work on the Rudolph zits. I tried some other brand of zit medicine, which also didn’t work.

Yesterday I was at the salon to get my colour touched up and a trim, and I decided to splurge.  I’ve been wanting a Clarisonic for years, and have read lots of reviews, positive and negative. I even bought a pale imitation that was far less expensive, only to be less than impressed with it, a couple of years ago (as in, pre-house fire). I got my annual performance incentive Friday, and put half of it in the family account and the other half in my savings account. It seemed only fair to take a little bit of it out to protect my skin. I decided on the Clarisonic Mia, as it’s less expensive but still got good reviews. It only has one speed, as opposed to the others, but it has the handy dandy little auto shut-off after one minute, so I won’t be able to grind my facial skin into powder.

As of yesterday, the zit hadn’t erupted yet. It was still raging red and hurting like billy blue blazes.  So before bed, I cleaned my face with the Clarisonic and the sample cleanser they included in the box. My skin was a little tender, but it felt remarkably clean and soft, and soaked up my FAB moisturizer (excellent stuff, by the way) like nobody’s business.  By this morning the zit was at full strength. I cleaned my face with the Clarisonic and the sample cleanser, then took care of my nose.  I’m learning how to hold the Mia on my face (doesn’t need any pressure), and my skin didn’t feel as tender as it did last night. My make-up went on perfectly beautifully. No flakiness, no weird dry patches, nothing. It was gorgeous.

By the time I got home today, the zit was already significantly smaller than it normally would have been. No hard scab. No blood.  I took off my eye makeup, then cleaned my face with my Clarisonic and this time used my Dermalogica cleaner.  My skin feels so soft. The zit is almost gone. My skin’s drinking in the moisturizer.  Absolutely amazing.

I cannot believe what a difference it’s making just in 24 hours. 3 face cleanings.

I’m seriously impressed.  Sometimes things really do live up to the hype, and in my opinion, this may be one of them.

If you’re thinking about getting a Clarisonic, be sure you do so from an authorized dealer. I got mine at Ulta.  I was reading reviews on Amazon, and apparently a lot of the ones being purchased through Amazon are not genuine Clarisonics and are thus not covered under the warranty. Just a heads up.

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Today was a day.  I got a lot done, and yet there was so much that didn’t get done. I felt exasperated and frustrated when I left work, but until my managers understand how much work I truly accomplish in a day, it’s going to be like this.  It’s been two weeks (?)–or three weeks–not sure which–since I talked to my team lead’s boss. She was going to try to get me off the phones.  Yeah. That hasn’t happened yet, and she’s off the rest of the week so it won’t happen this week either.  Here’s the deal. The accounts I work involve many outbound and inbound calls every day.  I have to call attorneys, law enforcement agencies, etc., usually leaving messages and then getting callbacks. So having to be on the ACD means I also get a whole lot of calls completely unrelated to what I do, and I’ve been forbidden to transfer them. So in the midst of trying to work MANY accounts, I have to stop and drop everything to handle someone else’s work. So there’s that.  Then we have a team mailbox. We are supposed to go check it a couple of times a day, take care of our stuff and remove it from the team box. Today when I went in after lunch, there were about 150 emails in there, many of which hadn’t even been opened yet.  I have to open them and double-check the database to make sure they’re not mine, and since I had to do that, I went ahead and forwarded them to whoever on my team is responsible for handling them. Thanks to the refusal of my team members to take responsibility for getting their emails out of the team box, I spent about an hour and a half I couldn’t spare doing that. Now I started to not forward them, but the problem is that had I not done so, they’d have sat there until the next time, or the next time, or the next time. Basically I’d have had to do it anyway in order to avoid having to go through hundreds of emails over and over.  Grrr. Very frustrated.  I’ve talked to the team lead about it and she just doesn’t give a rat’s ass. Nice.  Maybe I’m doing her an injustice. Maybe she doesn’t know how to deal with it; maybe she’s trying to give certain people enough rope with which to hang themselves. I don’t know. The problem is that her inaction, and their inaction, causes me to have a lot more work than I already have.

I’m interviewing for another position tomorrow. I am wavering between declaring I will never again tell Joe when I have a job interview, and not doing that. He totally freaked out and wanted me to hop out of the bathtub at 7:30 p.m. and run and get my hair done. I refused, of course, because there wasn’t time and because I have a hair appointment tomorrow. Yeah, I meant to try to change it to tonight, but I ended up working late and wouldn’t have had time anyway.  Then he wanted to touch up my roots at home, and I refused again, because the last time he interfered with my hair colour, it was disastrous.  Then he started going through my closet to see what I was planning to wear, and then decided I had to have new clothes. He asked my size–I told him that in pants or skirts, they need to have an elastic waist, and I wear a size 14. In tops I tend to be XL, although sometimes XL’s are too big and sometimes they’re too small. This is why shopping for me has kind of turned into a nightmare. I have the benefit of getting to buy clothes from the misses’ section, but have to try EVERYTHING on except Diva cut skinny jeans from Old Navy (size 14, thank you very much).  He came home with two very cute tops, a skirt with an elastic waist that’s a size XL (a 14 is frequently a L) and is a bit loose, but will work for now, a gosh-awful butt ugly blouse that I politely refused to try on, and a pair of pants. The pants were not elastic waist, and they were size 18W.  I tried them on, telling him they’d be too big, and of course they were, and they looked ghastly.  He’s going to return the pants and the butt ugly blouse, and I’ll wear one of the other tops with the skirt for my interview.  He also came home with some powder stuff to brush onto my roots so my greys won’t show, and he proceeded to brush the powder all over my part line and the spots where my grey shows on my temples. Then he told me I need to not lie on my hair tonight. WTH?????  I asked how I was supposed to do that, and he told me I needed to sleep sitting up on the sofa. I refused and he got very huffy with me.  Sigh.  He means well and he’s trying to help. He means well and he’s trying to help. He means well and he’s trying to help. 

Despite scoring two cute tops and an okay skirt out of the deal, I do think that I’m not telling him the next time I have an interview. I nearly ripped his head off tonight, and one more night like this might finish the job.

Changing topics now. I’m spending Galentine’s Evening with mah chickies.  🙂  Soleil, Liz, Danielle and I are meeting to go see Vampire Academy and have yummy food. Joe was a little disturbed that I won’t be spending the evening with him, but I promised we’d do something Saturday. This has been planned for a while, and I’m in serious need of some girl time. Definitely looking forward to it.

And one of the books that Liz and I have been working on has completely changed directions.  It was going to be a paranormal story, not too scary or anything, a little light romance.  Then it was going to be a little more romance. But since neither of us cares much for romance, and neither of us has any clue on how to write romance, we made the drastic decision to take it into a darker direction and write it as a horror novel. We spent lots of time Sunday mulling over the rules of our world, and some of the backstory and plot, and I think we’ve really hit something good here. I’m very excited to get it written.

And that’s my galaxy. What’s new in yours?

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Prior to the kerfuffle after the Golden Globes, when Mia Farrow and Ronan Farrow tweeted about the allegations against Woody Allen, I had been unaware that he’d been accused of molesting Dylan Farrow.  I know, I know, I spend a lot of time apparently living under a rock.

I used to really like Woody Allen’s films, Radio Days being my favourite. I quit watching his movies when his romance with Soon-Yi Previn was made public. I found it, frankly, repugnant that a man would get involved with the daughter of his significant other. It squicked me out, and it made his movies less enjoyable for me. 

I read Dylan Farrow’s open letter the other day. I believe her. I think she’s telling the truth. 

Does that mean that I think there’s not a whole lot of crazy messiness going on in their family? Of course not. It seems pretty obvious that there is an abundant supply of crazy messiness.  That’s not my business. I don’t personally know any of these people, and the chances that I would ever meet them are nil.  Family life is messy, and crazy, and sloppy, and difficult. It can have great highs and great lows. So I’m not going to sit and point fingers at them.

I do, however, have a choice in who I support with my time, attention, and limited finances.  Someone can be a brilliant artist, and be a child molester. The fact that he may be a child molester doesn’t make the art any less brilliant, but it does tarnish the luster of the artist.  I cannot in good conscience support his art. So I won’t be seeing any new Woody Allen movies, no matter how wonderful they may be. And I’ll never again see some of my old favourites.

And that’s okay.

 

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Work sucks right now.  In fact, it sucks so badly that saying it sucks is making it seem vastly more pleasant than it really is.

I hate feeling this way, because I used to LOVE my job.  What changed? Everything. Team composition, team leadership, my responsibilities, my workload, overtime (as in none anymore, as a general rule).

My amazingly awesome team lead moved over to a different team, which kudos for him in continuing to develop his knowledge base and career path. He was a really good team lead, and he continues to be a good mentor and sounding board when I need one. I applied for his job, but ultimately didn’t get it. Instead, they hired two people who had no experience in our company and I’m not sure they have any experience with impounds and confiscations. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Everyone starts somewhere.  

There are a couple of people on my team who have performance issues. One of them is sweet and funny and I like her, even when I’m wanting to scream when I correct the same mistake she’s made hundreds–if not thousands–of times. The other one, well, I loathe and detest her.  She is very difficult to work with. She isn’t particularly fond of work, and I’m a workaholic. She charitably went to HR a couple of months ago to complain about her difficulties in her job–let’s just say this team isn’t a good one for someone who doesn’t like to work–and complained about my being a bitch. Not in so many words, at least not how the nice man in HR said when I had to go down and explain myself, but yeah. It’s hard to feel charitable about someone who complains to HR because you’re a bitch. Really, though, it was because she’d made an incredibly asinine error, and rather than fix it myself, I let her handle it. That pissed her off, and she’s been trying to make trouble for me ever since. 

My job duties changed a bit, which is fine. I like change and I like learning new things. What is not fine is that my workload continues to increase; my overtime has been taken away, so I’m having to do more works in less time (reminds me of the Israelites having to make more bricks and the straw isn’t provided, so they also have to gather their own straw and still make their brick quotas); and one of the new team leads is actively trying to cause problems for me. She sent an email to my team lead today asking him to review an account because “Faith is refusing to work it,” which is complete and utter bullshit.  Fortunately for me, many years of being a secretary/administrative assistant taught me the CYA lesson, and I have the emails proving that not only was I NOT refusing to work an account that wasn’t then assigned to me and shouldn’t have been assigned to me, I actually did some ground work to help the person I am reluctant to call a co-worker, because she doesn’t do a lot of work.  

What pisses me off even more is that I do very high quality work. I touch my accounts when they’re supposed to be touched; I document all the systems of record; I handle everything promptly. My non-co-worker doesn’t touch her accounts when they’re supposed to be touched; she doesn’t document the systems of record; and she sits on stuff for weeks on end. I’m out for three weeks on medical leave, and no one worked my accounts and two liens were lost.  She’s out for one day and I’m ordered to drop what I’m doing to work on her shit.  It’s crap. it’s wrong. 

I’m applying for jobs in other departments, but the process can be slow, and there are plenty of other candidates trying to get hired. I just hope that I can hang in there, refrain from popping my cork, and keep doing my usual standard of work until I do get to move to another department. I like my company, like the benefits, and would like to be able to stay with the company. 

Sorry to be so complainey. I’m struggling right now. I’m not used to being this miserable at work, and I don’t like it. Please say a prayer for me, if you’re the praying sort, or send me some white light if that’s your thing. I’ll take all the positive energy that’s sent my way. I’ll need it, to get through this miserable time.

Thanks!

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Testing Pins

In a pinning frenzy, I once pinned a tip to shave one’s legs using baby oil gel instead of shaving cream, with the promise of it making one’s legs silky smooth and soft.

My shaving cream of choice is Trader Joe’s honey mango shave cream, and I love the stuff, so much so that I buy 6 tubes at a time so that I never have to worry about running out.  I find that it leaves my legs silky soft, gives me a very clean shave, and makes me happy.  The baby oil gel costs approximately the same as the Trader Joe’s, so it’s not something that would appear to be a significant money savings.  In the interest of science and beauty, however, I decided to give it a go.

I shaved my left leg with the baby oil gel. The first thing I noticed was that, as you know, oil doesn’t mix with water, so it felt really dense on my leg, and kind of beaded up in places.  I put a new blade cartridge on my razor, and the baby oil gel really gunked up the blades badly.  I did get a clean shave, but it was no cleaner than I get with my standby from Trader Joe’s.  I had to work hard to get the gunk off the blades, and apparently didn’t do such a good job, because as I was shaving my right leg, with the Trader Joe’s lotion, it started getting the same gunky texture and pulling on my skin that I felt on the left leg.  

Both legs are very clean shaven.  Both legs feel soft and moisturized.  The baby oil leg still has a heavy feeling to it, and it’s not particularly pleasant.  My Trader Joe’s lotion leg feels as beautiful as always.

I’m giving this pin a thumbs down!

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Didn’t I say I wanted to at least try to keep track of what books I read this year? Seems like I did. I finished Divergent yesterday. Very good. I’d been wanting to read it for a while, and seeing the trailer for the  movie propelled me into action.  I may have read a few more, but was having trouble with the Kindle app on my iPad mini, and had to delete it and reinstall it, so all my books got moved back into the cloud. I hope that won’t happen again!! Very annoying.

I just bought two ebooks by Dana White, blogger at A Slob Comes Clean.  I’m in the decluttering process yet again. sigh. One would think that I’d learn my lesson sooner or later, and yet this seems to be something I struggle with.  I’ve been moving piles of things from one side of my bedroom to another, because they’re good things, and I want to keep them, but I don’t have anywhere to put them.  So I have decided that it doesn’t matter how good they are and how much I want them. If I don’t have a place to put them, and can’t make a place for them, then they have to go.  I underestimated how long it would take me to declutter one smallish room. Definitely not going to finish this project today.  So I’ll be working on it throughout the week. Good thing the OT at work is finished, eh?

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I like to cuss. Kind of a lot.  Unlike my sister Elizabeth, who can put together a perfectly original and striking phrase (effing floo powder anyone?), though, my cussing is mostly just strings of random foul words linked together until I’ve finished expressing my anger/frustration/whatever at the situation.  I remember when I was considerably younger, my mom tried to get me to clean up my language by telling me that a certain attractive Secret Service agent called women who cussed “trashmouths.” It didn’t work, not really. I just tried to stop cussing around her.

Joe doesn’t like it when I cuss. He thinks it’s unladylike.  Or vulgar or unrefined or something. Not quite sure what. But dang! When people tell me to cuss around them, my instinctive response (whether I utter it or not), is to say that I’ll cuss as much as I damn well want to, thankyouverymuch.

Don’t get me wrong. I do my best not to cuss aloud when it’s not appropriate. And I am definitely cognizant of the fact that there are times when it’s highly inappropriate to cuss. In my mother’s presence, f’rinstance. Or at work, which is funny in a not-funny way because one of the things that makes me most want to cuss is work. When I’m in public and little kids are around. At funerals. At church. Although  my sister has a funny story about a man talking in church one day about how he couldn’t stop cussing, and his wife hated it, and he just couldn’t clean up his damn language. She tells it better than I do, since she was there, but it always cracks me up to think about it.

Another thing that makes me want to cuss is when Joe eats a metric fucktonne of chocolate and complains because he gets a migraine headache and he thinks he’s having a heart attack or a stroke. I’d be more sympathetic if vegetables or grilled fish gave him migraines, and I’m not completely unsympathetic that chocolate does it to him. But when I told him the other day the reason he was having migraines is because he had eaten a metric fucktonne of chocolate, he told me to quit cussing.  And he said I was right and he would quit eating chocolate. I came home the next day from work to find that he’d plowed his way through the big hollow Santa Claus in that fancy bag of European chocolates he’d gotten at Christmas time. I was going to take the hollow chocolate Lindt or Lindor bear (forget which it was) to work and give it to someone there to eat, but he promised he wouldn’t eat it and told me to leave it where it was because it was cute and he wouldn’t eat it, honest. I got home from work today and all that’s left of that poor chocolate bear is a mess of foil wrapper on the table. So if Joe gets a headache I’ll tell him it’s his own damn fault for eating a metric fucktonne of chocolate, and if he tells me not to cuss I’ll tell him not to drive me to cussing by eating a metric fucktonne of chocolate.

No, I won’t. I’ll get him some Advil and a Coke and tell him to lie down and get some rest, only he won’t because he’ll go plug in his guitar and turn on the amp and drown out the neighbourhood. I don’t get that.

 

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BlahBlahBlah

Some days I catch myself mentally composing blog posts, and then completely forgetting to do more than said mental composition.  And then some days I actually remember to do a post, but don’t necessarily remember what I’d oh so brilliantly composed in my mind. Oh well. At least I’m here, right?

So here’s what’s on my mind.  THE BACK. I have had ongoing back problems for years. Nothing I can’t live with most of the time, but enough that I spend a good portion of most days hurting.  And with first the lap band and now gastric sleeve, I am not allowed to take NSAIDs, which was what most helped with said back pain.  Before my surgery in November, I was taking a prescription as needed (read, every few days when I just couldn’t stand the pain anymore), but have been out for a while. And then I had that stupid accident in December and my back’s been hurting more since then. There’s nothing majorly wrong, which is good to know, but still doesn’t make things hurt less. So I went to see my awesome primary care doctor today. He gave me a short term prescription for muscle relaxers and pain pills, gave me some a printout with some stretches to do, and gave me a referral for some physical therapy. I’m not familiar with this type of physical therapy, but his nurse said that she was very skeptical at first but that it really worked wonders for her knee.  Hey, if it helps, I’m in.   And not that this has anything to do with my back, but it was a positive pleasure getting weighed at the doctor’s office this morning, and getting complimented on my progress by my doctor. I usually end up seeing a PA when I have to go, which isn’t often, so I haven’t seen him in quite some time, or quite a few pounds ago. It was nice.

THE FACE. I’m addicted to make-up and beauty blogs and skin care, along with fashion, and I decided to start getting a little adventurous and trying some of these amazing products I’ve been reading about.  One thing that piqued my interest last week was this review for Garnier cleansing oil.  Since running out of Arbonne, and not having the funds to sign back up and replace it, I’ve been desperately trying to find something that made my face feel as good as the Arbonne did. Lemme tell you, that’s been rough. Arbonne is seriously amazing stuff, no question about it. First I tried some stuff by Boots that I’d read good things about, and I might have liked it better had I not started using it after running out of Arbonne, but there you have it. It wasn’t that impressive. Then I just bought a few random things that were recommended by a few random people, and they were okayish, but not all that.  Then I got a facial in November or December, and ended up getting some Dermalogica product. I liked it all right, even though I cringed at the cost. But my experiences of late have not been too great with lower cost products, and I figured paying big bucks was just what it was going to have to be.  I do try the samples of different things that come with my Sephora and Ulta boxes, when I order them, which is how I found out about the amazing First Aid Beauty line; their facial moisturizer is really fantastic.  Anyway, today while I was waiting for prescriptions to be filled, I was browsing through the beauty section at the drugstore, and found that Garnier cleansing oil. It made its way into my basket and then into my car, and I just washed my face with it, and followed that up with the FAB moisturizer.  I never would have thought it possible, but my face feels even softer than it did after the Arbonne treatment, and much softer than with the Dermalogica, and at less than $10 for the cleansing oil. (The FAB moisturizer was higher, and I had to order it from Sephora, but it was still less than the Dermalogica, and I do recommend it.)  So yay for that!

THE HAIR. I’m frustrated with my hair right now but I don’t really know what to do with it. I want to have long, curly hair, and yet my hair is straight as a board and decidedly unlong. I’ve been trying to grow it out, but realized that all I do when I have it long enough is put it up in ponytails, which isn’t cute on me, and silly to do when I look better with shorter hair.  So my wonderful hair stylist cut off an inch or so, layered it up a lot more, and made it look cute until I had to shampoo it and try to style it myself. I used to use some sea salt spray, which gave me beautiful beachy waves, but I’ve been reading bad things about sea salt spray really drying out one’s hair. And since I do dye my hair (although I use ammonia-free dye now, thanks to aforementioned wonderful hair stylist), I try to avoid things that will dry my hair.  I think I read about something in the last day or two that is supposed to have a similar effect without the negatives, so will have to go do a Google search.  One change I have made was switching to a sulfate-free shampoo.  My hair colour faded a lot last month, which made me not happy, and I wondered if the sulfates in the shampoo might have had something to do with that.  I was using a salon brand shampoo specifically designed for colour treated hair; I do not blow dry nor curl nor flat iron my hair.  Anyway, I tried the sulfate-free shampoo, and was pleasantly surprised to find that my hair was almost as shiny after letting it air dry as it is when I get it styled and blow dried at the salon.  I didn’t get a salon brand of the sulfate-free (finances, as I say, are a bit tighter than I’d like them to be right now), but it still did a great job with my hair.

THE JOB. The job is Stress Central. For the first time in quite some time, I’m very unhappy at work.  I still do my best, but the team dynamics have changed with some departures and new arrivals that have taken place. I also think that after working 50-60 hours many weeks last year, I’m kind of burned out and ready for a change.  I’ve started applying for some different positions within the company, and hope to be making a change to a new job and team within a few months. 

And that’s about enough blather from me for one night. Hope you’re all well and happy!!

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Testing Pins

One of the things I said I wanted to do this year was to actually try some of the many, many pins I have pinned on Pinterest (how many pins can a pinterested pinner pin….). And, well, today was the day.

I can’t believe I’m about to confess this, because it’s not like me, but here goes:

Image

 

I made all the cupcakes in this photo except the one with the pretty bird and flower and stuff.  No, that’s not what I’m a bit embarrassed about. This is.  They’re cake mix cakes.  Not because I don’t know how to make from scratch cakes, and not because I don’t love making scratch cakes, because I do. But I made 120 cupcakes today (plus an extra little mini cake because I had some extra batter due to the pin I tested today), and that’s a metric f*cktonne of cupcakes to make in one day. I couldn’t start them last night because Joe was insistent that we go see Desolation of Smaug again, and who am I to argue with that? 

But they’re not just your average, run-of-the-mill cake mix cakes. Nossirree, Bob.  My awesome bestie Sarah (by the way, you may have noticed that I refer to my bestie Clover and my bestie Sarah and Soleil and Elizabeth, etc.  That’s because bestie isn’t a position, it’s a tier.) told me about this pin about how to make cake mix cakes taste like homemade and then some.  Here’s the link she sent me:  http://thepintertestkitchen.com/how-to-make-a-box-cake-mix-taste-better/

Basically you do the following: substitute melted butter for the oil; substitute milk for the water; and add an extra egg.  Now when I clicked through to the directions, they said to add an extra egg or two; double the oil but use melted butter; and sub the milk.  I added one extra egg to each of the German chocolate and the devil’s food cake mixes; the white cake mixes (which I used to create the delectable lemonade cupcakes–more in a sec) called for three egg whites, and I subbed two whole eggs since I didn’t care that the cake actually be white.  I did not double the oil amount, but if it called, say, for 1/3 cup oil, I used 1/2 cup melted butter, so I did increase it a bit.  And I subbed whole milk (organic because I don’t like the hormones in milk) for the water.  

This pin TOTALLY rocked!!!  

Now if you’re interested in the lemonade cupcakes, here’s how I made them. I rounded the butter up to the next half cup measure (e.g. as I said before, if it called for 1/3 cup oil, I used 1/2 cup melted butter); used two whole eggs instead of three egg whites; subbed whole milk for the water.  I also poured in a splash of thawed pink lemonade concentrate.  For the frosting–yes, I also cheated and used canned frosting–I started with cream cheese frosting. I dumped it into a big bowl, and added a good large blob of sour cream and some more thawed pink lemonade concentrate. I was worried it might turn the cakes pinkish, which I didn’t really want but didn’t think about when I got pink lemonade concentrate instead of just regular lemonade concentrate, but it didn’t.  I made two boxes of the cupcakes (mixed up one box at a time) for 48 cupcakes, and used 3 cans of frosting. I mixed all the frosting stuff together, as I took the cupcakes to the reception site and frosted them there.  When all was said and done, there was still about 1/3 can of the thawed lemonade concentrate left.  Sorry I can’t provide exact amounts.  I wanted the cake to be less tart, and have more of the tartness in the frosting, with the cream cheese and sour cream to provide a nice counterpoint.  I heard a couple of people saying that the best cupcakes were the lemon ones, so I was pleased with that.  Note that by mixing in the lemonade concentrate and the sour cream, it will definitely change the texture of the frosting.  You won’t be able to pipe it because it’s a bit too liquidy.  It worked out okay, though; I just spooned a blob of frosting on each cupcake, then sprinkled on some gold coloured sugar (the wedding colours were creams and golds and browns–very beautiful), and it evened out as they settled.  

For the German chocolate cupcakes, I was originally going to pipe a border of chocolate frosting around the edges of the cupcakes and then fill it in with the coconut pecan icing, but by the time I’d done all the baking and coped with traffic on the way to the reception, I changed my mind. I just spooned the coconut pecan icing on top, and then placed a pecan half on top of each cupcake. They weren’t the prettiest cupcakes I’ve ever seen, but they weren’t too awful.  I used two cans of coconut pecan icing for the 48 German chocolate cupcakes, and it wasn’t enough. I ended up having to use only chocolate icing on 8 or so, so I’d recommend using 3 cans of the icing if you’re making 48.

So while I’m a bit embarrassed that I used cake mixes, I’m pleased that the pin worked out so well, and incredibly pleased with the lemonade cupcakes I invented.

Oh, and one other thing–I’m a fan of those life hacks you might see all over the place on the internet.  I saw one last week about how to crack raw eggs. I was taught by my mother to crack them on the edge of a bowl, but the hack I saw last week said it works better to just rap them smartly on a flat surface. So I gave that a go as well, and it works MUCH better than trying to crack them open on the edge of a bowl. They open easily and with very little mess, and no having to fish out bits of egg shell.  So that, while it wasn’t a pin, also rocked.

I hope to be reporting on more pins throughout the year. What about you–any tips for making cake mixes taste better? Any creative twists on cake mix cakes you feel like sharing? 

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A few years ago, I think I managed to read an average of a book a day (really I would go several days, and then have a huge book binge on the weekends).  And I do adore reading.

My book buying habits have changed a lot over the years.  I now have an iPad mini, courtesy of my LASIK surgeon, who gave it as a thank-you gift when I had my eyes done last February. So on my iPad mini, I have hundreds of books on both my Kindle app and my nook app.  I seldom buy print books anymore. My home is cluttered enough as it is.

And one of the things I love about the Kindle app in particular is that I can find hundreds of ebooks for free.  I really enjoy that. When I find an author I like, I will add him or her to my list, and search for new books. So even though they may give me a book for free, I may end up buying everything they write.  Amazon also has some really great Kindle daily deals, where you can get books for extremely low prices. I like to take advantage of that as well.

What I don’t like so much, though, is that I haven’t been keeping track of what I’ve been reading.  I need to change that.  It was cool, at the end of the year, to look back at the list of books I read. So I’m going to try to at least make a quick note of what I read, how well I liked it, etc. I won’t be doing reviews probably, at least not initially, but there you go.

So, the first book I read this year was The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.  Holy cow, was that a fantastic read!!!  It was intellectually, emotionally draining, and wholly entertaining. I’d recommend it to anyone wholeheartedly, with the caveat that if you or a loved one is terminally ill or you have lost someone, it will definitely bring up a lot of emotions. So be cautious from that angle, but if you can find the strength, don’t avoid it just because of that. It is a beautiful story.

Then I read Tethered (A BirthRight Novel) by Brandi Leigh Hall.  The protagonist is a Seer in a family of individuals possession various supernatural gifts, and returns home at a time of crisis.  It was good.  I really enjoyed it, and will be eagerly watching for the sequels as they are available.  I believe the next one will be Tempted, and comes out in the spring of 2014.

I’m currently reading Dead Girls Never Shut Up, by Susan Stec. I can’t say that I like it yet (I’m 31% of the way through), but I’m curious to know what happens, so I will probably finish it.

The next two reads are the ones Clover put into my Christmas bag yesterday, and I would tell you the titles now except that would entail turning on the light and getting them out of the Christmas bag. So I’ll tell you the titles of them the next time I post. One is by the esteemed lady herself, and I’m so excited to be reading it. She has blossomed as a writer over the years that we’ve known each other, and you really should do yourself a favour and check her out.  You can look her up on Amazon–Clover Autrey–and you can find her on the web at cloverautrey.org, and on facebook at Clover Autrey Books.

What about you? What books are on your TBR list? Have you read any recently that need to be added to my TBR list?

(Oh, and a HUGE advantage of my iPad mini is that my TBR list no longer is a stack of books untidily piled on my nightstand. So much easier to deal with!!)

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